HUDSON, Wis. - The fourth day of testimony in the Aaron Schaffhausen trial included friends and medical professionals testifying about the mindset of the man who has admitted to murdering his three daughters.
Schaffhausen pleaded guilty to murdering his three daughters in River Falls last summer; the defense is trying to prove that he was insane at the time of the crime.
Several of Schaffhausen's friends and co-workers who he hung out with in North Dakota in the beginning of 2012 testified; each one of them saying he had mentioned on several occasions that he wanted to go home to River Falls and kill his wife and children.
A friend and co-worker of Aaron Schaffhausen, Jeremy Michaels, testified that while drinking and playing cards or cribbage Schaffhausen would speak of killing his wife and children.
Michaels also testified that Schaffhausen offered to pay him and another friend to kill Jessica Schaffhausen. Michaels told jurors that Schaffhausen said if his ex-wife was gone, his problems would be gone.
Aaron Schaffhausen lived with Jeremy Michaels when the two worked in Minot, North Dakota. While he described normal times, like fishing on the banks of a river, playing cars and cribbage, he also described an incident in which Schaffhausen attacked him with a broom. Michaels testified that he said something about Schaffhausen's ex that caused Aaron to leap off the couch and attack him with a broomstick. "Don't you ever talk about Jess like that," Michaels recalled Schaffhausen threatening him.
Michaels was followed on the stand by another friend and co-worker, Jon Paul. He told the courtroom about Schaffhausen's repeated references to killing his ex-wife and his children, and said he had been offered money to kill Jessica Schaffhausen.
St. Croix County Assistant District Attorney Amber Hahn questioned Paul. "Did you write in your email that the defendant said things like I want to go kill my kids then my ex wife?" she asked. "Yes," Paul replied. "Did he say after her I will go to the man's house she is sleeping with kill him cut his head off, put it on a stake in my front yard and then I will sit back and have a beer?" Hahn questioned. "Yes," Paul replied.
Paul testified that he hadn't seen Shaffhausen for some time when he heard about someone in Wisconsin killing his children. He called authorities and told them about his experiences with Aaron Schaffhausen, and his constant talk about murdering his family.
Also testifying on Friday was a doctor and counselor that saw Schaffhausen in 2011. They say he was quiet, reclusive, depressed, and significantly dissatisfied with his work and his marriage. Dr. Paul McMillan says he has moderate to severe depressive disorder. He described Schaffhausen as quiet and said he stared at floor during the evaluation.
McMillan told jurors that Schaffhausen was not suicidal or delusional when the evaluation occured in 2011.
Schaffhausen has confessed to slashing the throats of his daughters Amara, Sophie and Cecelia on July 10, 2012. He maintains he was insane or suffering from a mental defect at the time of the killings.
Prosecutors say the murders were a calculated attempt to hurt his ex-wife Jessica after she divorced him.
A number of friends of both Aaron and his ex-wife testified that when they hung out with them prior to 2012 and they said he was an engaged father and a very social and fun person to be around.
His brother, Eric Schaffhausen took the stand and told the court about the time he and another brother drove from the Twin Cities to North Dakota to find Aaron in November of 2011. They say he was suicidal, so they went to find him, and found him sad and depressed.
The final person to testify was Liz Dalaidan, Schaffhausen's cousin, who talked to him by phone, and had an alarming phone conversation. She wept on the stand as she recalled him saying "he was too afraid to be too close to the girls. He was afraid he would hurt them," she told the court.
The defense is about halfway through its witness list after the first week of testimony. The trial is expected to last three weeks.
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